American Airlines Opens Reservations To Auckland

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On 10 November American Airlines announced that it was going to commence service between Los Angeles and Auckland, New Zealand as part of its new and expanded joint venture agreement with Qantas. The new route was announced with some fanfare with American Airlines CEO, Doug Parker, holding a press conference in Auckland to break the news – but no specific date was given for the commencement of service.

Yesterday, 22 November, American Airlines opened reservations for the Los Angeles to Auckland route with the first flight departing Los Angles on 23 June 2016.

The flight schedule is exactly as was announced at the 10 November press conference:

LAX 22:45 – 06:35+ 2 days AKL
AKL 13:20 – 06:30 LAX


Economy Class fares are pricing from $1,595 R/T….


…and that compares quite favourably to Air New Zealand whose economy class fares currently start at around $1,714.

The news on Business Class fares is worse with prices on American Airlines starting at an astronomical $7,374…and that for a stay of at least 8 nights. Anyone wanting a shorter stay should expect to be quoted at least $8,000.

I thought that this just meant that American Airlines hadn’t yet loaded all of their fares but, when I checked what Air New Zealand were charging…..

air-new-zealand-lax-aucklandAir New Zealand Business Class LAX-AKL

….I quickly realised that fares were simply that high on this route.

Award Availability

As things stand it doesn’t look like American Airlines have loaded their awards seats for the Los Angeles – Auckland route – either that or they have absolutely no intention of releasing MilesSAAver seats at all.

For the Los Angles to Auckland flights this is what the first couple of weeks looks like:


And the return journey doesn’t look any better:


I’ve taken a look at the award calendar for the entire booking period (June – October) and, right now, there isn’t a single day with MilesSAAver award availability – in either direction.

The cheapest Economy Class awards price out at 70,000 miles (one way) and the cheapest Business Class awards come to 140,000 (one way).

As things stand, the seat maps for the inaugural flight would seem to indicate that availability is wide open (and at those prices I’m not that surprised):

lax-akl-seat-mapScreenshot from

lax-akl-seat-mapScreenshot from

I wonder if the one seat booked (L1) will be Doug Parker? 🙂

For the time being I’ve set up an Award Alert on for the inaugural flight, just in case American Airlines feel charitable and do eventually release MilesSAAver space – but I’m not holding my breath!

The Aircraft

American Airlines will be flying their 787-8 Dreamliner on the Los Angeles – Auckland route.

The aircraft features 28 Business Class seats, 57 Main Cabin Extra seats and 141 Economy Class seats.

The Business Class cabin features American Airlines’ latest Business Class product (not the same as the Business Class product on their 777-300 aircraft) with 6-across seating (giving passengers all-aisle access passengers) and a seat that converts into a completely flat-bed.

American Airlines 787 Business Class Seat

The seats in the cabin are set out in a ying-yang layout meaning that American, for the first time, offers seats that face backwards.

American Airlines 787 Business Class Seat

The reviews of this product have been varied and, while it’s clearly not a bad way to fly at all, don’t expect the same amount of space as you get in a Business Class seat on one of American’s 777-300ERs.

The Main Cabin extra offering has positive and negative aspects to it.

On American Airlines’ 787-8 the Main Cabin Extra seats come with a seat pitch of 36″ and a seat width of 17″ – 18″ (per SeatGuru).

36″ isn’t a bad seat pitch at all especially when you consider that most true-Premium Economy cabins only offer 38″ (and you have to pay a hefty premium over Economy Class to get those seats).

Based on the width of the aircraft than the fact that American has squeezed in 9-across seating thought Main Cabin Extra and the regular Economy Class cabin, I suspect the seat width will be closer to 17″….and that’s very tight.

American Airlines 787 Economy ClassEconomy Class cabin on American Airlines’ Boeing 787-8

The Economy Class cabin shares the same incredibly tight seat-width as the Main Cabin extra seats but the Economy Class seats also have a significantly reduced seat pitch of just 31″ – and that cannot be fun on what will be a 13+ hour journey.

Unfortunately, if SeatGuru is to be believed, Air New Zealand’s offering doesn’t exactly give you any more space in Economy either…although, depending on prices, their Premium Economy product may well be worth a try:

air-new-zealand-777-300-seatingAir New Zealand 777-300 Seat Details Per SeatGuru

With the Economy Cabin offering so similar between the only two airlines offering a non-stop service between Los Angeles and New Zealand, there really isn’t much choice for passengers – and that’s never good. I’m still hoping to see prices come down on this route thanks to a bit of competition between the two airlines but I suspect that’s at least a few months away while both airlines watch to see how bookings are going.

Featured Image: Francisco Anzola via Flickr